Archive for July, 2013

50 Ways Restaurants Engage Their Employees

Restaurants often have a wide mix of employees, from managers to bus boys (and bus girls), from full-time salaried employees to part-time hourly staff who may work a regular 20 hours a week or a minimum of one weekend a month.  It’s a challenge to keep the creative executive chef in the back and the outgoing host staff in the front and everyone in between feeling like they are all part of the same team.  That’s why I’ve compiled a list of tips from a variety of HR professionals in the field on how you can successfully engage your employees.  Every role is important, and your staff need to feel appreciated and like they belong.  Whether you have your own HR Department or rely on a third party HR consultant, your restaurant can effectively manage your people with some or all of these 50 tips and ideas:restaurant employee engagement ideas

1. Well written and executed HR policies that follow the brand culture and mission statement
2. Referral program to motivate existing staff to help recruit new staff
3. Staff recruitment strategies that are welcoming for prospects and new hires
4. Establish a “first 30” program to identify ways to make a new hire feel important in the first 30 seconds, the first 30 minutes, the first 30 days, and the first 30 shifts
5. Formal and in-depth training programs
6. Formalized career paths
7. Honest and transparent status of job growth and promotions opportunities
8. Staff who are coaches or mentors to their co-workers who can foster growth
9. Ongoing and new training for staff trainers
10. Engaging managers who in turn will engage their employees
11. Clear organizational charts so every employee knows who their direct supervisor is (i.e., too many bosses makes it confusing for everyone)
12. Implement annual certifications that require additional training before being earned
13. Regular safety training
14. Recognize accident-free staff members in a positive and ‘public’ manner in front of their peers
15. Develop a points system for staff rewards (e.g., staff can accrue points for gift card sales, dessert up sells, or number of hours of training in order to earn prizes or perks)
16. Regular employee surveys
17. Employee feedback forums or programs
18. Reward employees who make suggestions that are implemented (e.g., cost-savings, menu changes, sustainability practices)
19. Open door policy to encourage communication and freedom of voicing opinions and concerns (and ACT on any concerns brought to your attention)
20. Social media policy that promotes positive participation and engagement on social networks
21. Social media groups or pages set up for employee interaction (e.g., a closed Facebook group)
22. Intranet or forum to post company news, welcome new hires, and congratulate staff on milestone anniversaries or awards, which will help bridge any communication gaps among all levels and departments
23. Employee retreats, workshops, and team-building exercises
24. Quality circle meetings with staff
25. Regular one-on-one meetings between staff and supervisor to address personal goals both in and outside of work
26. Open and frequent communication, regular manager-to-staff interaction, and stay interviews
27. Arrange job shadowing between departments to help everyone understand their co-workers’ roles and responsibilities (and in turn how they fit into the big picture)
28. Encourage managers/supervisors to perform all tasks in their department occasionally in order to be a team player, assist staff as needed, and earn respect of subordinates
29. Reward staff who are recognized in guest feedback, including in online spaces (it’s nice to copy the staff in a reply, so the guest knows their feedback was heard and shared)
30. Offer fun employee contests, either random or pre-planned (e.g., top seller of the day)
31. Turn menu training into an ongoing interactive trivia game with small rewards for correct answers
32. Hold an employee and family day on-site
33. Host an employee picnic or party off-site
34. Offer employees a discount and reach out to neighboring stores to designate a co-promotional discount program for employees
35. Find creative (even if random) perks to offer (e.g., employee parking spots, free bag of coffee to take home after your 50th shift, monthly t-shirt days, etc.)
36. Give meaningful and individualized staff anniversary gifts based on tenure (e.g., 5 year gift, 10 year gift, etc.)
37. Offer the opportunity to earn a sabbatical after a set number of years, allowing a long-term staff to take a one-time extended vacation within a certain time frame
38. Promote the brand’s social responsibility to the employees and encourage participation in volunteer or fundraising activities
39. Encourage staff to bond together to volunteer on a community project or participate in a fundraising activity
40. Offer staff a couple days off each year to do charity work of their choosing
41. Celebrate your anniversary date by driving employee engagement (e.g., 15 employee projects for the 15th anniversary year)
42. Allow staff to vote on the music station one day out of the week
43. Keep the employee break room clean and comfortable
44. Provide secure lockers or cabinets for personal belongings of staff
45. Post the employee schedule promptly and be as flexible as possible with requests and shift changes
46. Implement a voluntary wellness, smoking cessation, or fitness program
47. Encourage staff to attend free or local trainings, support staff who are in school, or offer tuition reimbursement where applicable
48. Empower supervisors to instantly reward staff who do a great job, handle a customer concern effectively, or master a task or new technique
49. Include retention and succession planning in your HR policies
50. Treat employees with dignity and respect while showing them that you care about them as people, not just revenue-makers

It really boils down to that last point. If you genuinely care about your staff, get to know them on a somewhat personal (but not-too-personal) level, help them achieve their goals both professional and otherwise, and create a happy environment for them to report to each day, you’ll be well on your way to engaging your employees who will want to, in return, help you find success for a long time to come!



Some of these great ideas were borrowed from these HR professionals:

Restaurants and Social Responsibility

restaurants and social responsibilitySocial responsibility is an important part of any company’s marketing and operations strategies, including restaurant brands.  Today’s savvy customer expects a high level of corporate ethics, which takes the community, the environment, and the greater good into consideration.  In fact, two thirds of the world’s consumers prefer shopping or dining at companies that give back to society.  This concept of doing good and giving back has become increasingly important to the Millennial generation, which every company needs to have on their radar for marketing purposes; they’ve arrived to market.

At East Coast Chair & Barstool, we have a corporate giving strategy that our owners can feel good about.  In addition to supporting opportunities that promote local B2B networking or highlight our presence in the food service and related industries, our owners strive to create a family-like work atmosphere by supporting causes that are important to the employees.  A dress down schedule promotes philanthropy among the staff, and additionally, our owners are happy to support local educational causes that benefit their children or the school-aged children of their staff members.  We believe that as our company grows, we need to show our gratitude by giving back to our community.

Restaurants are actively participating in cause marketing efforts, too.  In the weeks following Hurricane Sandy, the Boston bombings, and the tornadoes in Oklahoma, we read many stories of restaurants coming together to support their neighbors. Whether it was pouring coffee for the Red Cross volunteers or raising funds for victims, restaurants responded to the call to action.  But brands don’t have to wait for tragedy to strike.  Every brand should have a cause or charity (or a few) that they support year-round, which makes sense for that company.  A perfect example is Firehouse Subs, whose foundation supports hometown heroes: firefighters!  Their entire culture is wrapped around their cause, so it’s a natural fit that their customers and community can believe.

The best part is that establishing a corporate giving strategy really is win-win-win. A) Your customers feel great about supporting a cause when they visit you. B) The cause gets much-needed funds to continue their good work.  C) And you score a loyal fan base.  Revenues tend to rise during fundraising campaigns at stores and restaurants.  For example, Dairy Queen’s Miracle Treat Day, in which the company donates $1 for every blizzard sold during the day to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, is often one of the busiest days of the year for the participating locations.

But beware.  A PR scheme to drum up sales isn’t the best way to approach social responsibility. The consumer is also a good BS-detector.  Be sincere in your efforts, and you can win over the hearts of your employees, your customers, and your community.

There are a lot of ways to support a good cause.  Offer to host a charity event at your restaurant, sponsor a local cause, or donate food and drinks to a special event taking place in your community.  You can recruit staff members to join a team for a charity walk/bike ride, or get a group of staff volunteers together to do a community project, like starting a community garden or building a playground.  Perhaps you create an in-store fundraising night, a celebrity bartender event, or a dine-to-donate program with proceeds going to a charity of your choice.  Participating in an already-established program, like No Kid Hungry, might be an easy way to get started, and it is a great fit for all restaurants.  You might also want to do something locally with your neighborhood food cupboard, soup kitchen, or school lunch program.

Other ways consumers expect restaurants to practice social responsibility is in the way they handle their everyday business operations. If you source locally-grown ingredients and humanely-raised meats, you should add that information to your menu and website.  If you use packaging that is from recycled materials, or if you have a ‘green team’ on your staff, dedicated to reducing your restaurant’s carbon footprint, you should share that information in your advertising.  The more ways you find to promote being a responsible company, the more people will like you.  And being liked is the first step to being successful.

Engaging in socially responsible behaviors will make you proud of the company you’re leading. It might even make you feel a little warm and fuzzy inside, yourself.

How will your restaurant make a difference?

TOLIX® Model A Chair History and Its Replica, Our “Viktor”

Have you been seeing a resurgence in industrial chic interior design? So have we!  The combination of cool metal furniture with warm wooden accents join forces to pull off something organic and awesome. Popular especially in cafes and bistros, the use of classic steel furniture is both vintage and urban.  We know what’s hot in restaurant design today, so we’ve created an inexpensive replica to the famous TOLIX® Company Model A chair that you’re seeing a lot of lately. This vintage seating design has inspired one of our newest furniture lines!  We call ours Viktor, but here’s a little history of how the Viktor came to be.  Because you shouldn’t have to pay tall prices for good design…agree?

According to the company’s website, the original chair was first created by French designer Xavier Pauchard (1880-1948) in 1934, who started the company TOLIX® to produce galvanized metal household items after WWI.  He soon began using sheet metal to build chairs and stools, and he trademarked his company’s brand in 1927.  The Model A chair was born, and matching stools soon followed.  Pauchard was entrepreneurial, and the furniture he built soon became popular mainstays across many residential and commercial settings, including offices, hospitals, museums, and cafe terraces.  Their international popularity peaked in the late 1950s, when the company’s 80 workers were producing 60,000 units annually.

The TOLIX® Company stayed in the Pauchard family until the early 21st Century. In 2004, Chantal Andriot bought the brand and began its revival.  She recruited new designers to re-invent the functionality of the vintage French industrial chair to meet today’s tastes and market expectations. With new technology and manufacturing processes in place, the Model A chair has once again found unfailing popularity across the globe.

Because many of the restaurant owners who turn to us for their furniture needs began asking about this same design, we talked to our manufacturers about creating a similar chair at a fraction of the price without infringing on the original artist’s label.  Enter Viktor. This chair is an affordable alternative to the name brand and is proof that we care about what our customers are looking for in terms of quality and style. We listened, so you can put the Viktor steel restaurant chair, bar stool, and backless bar stool to work in creating the industrial chic and urban atmosphere your restaurant decor demands.

Our Viktor line has been commercially weight tested and is made of 16-gauge rolled and stamped steel.  With a ten-step finishing process, the restaurant furniture shows off its characteristic abrasions and markings, which are topped off with a clear powder coat finish.  The full sigma welds ensure its industrial strength, and Viktor comes complete with non-marring rubber glides to protect your restaurant’s floor.  We also wanted to give restaurant owners the ease and flexibility by making sure that the steel restaurant chair could stack on top of one another. Our owners are really pleased with how well this chair has been designed to meet our customers’ aesthetic and functionality needs.

What’s more, we had a special employee-only naming competition internally at East Coast Chair & Barstool to name this new line. With a gift certificate on the line, one of our customer care specialists, Kerry, took the honor with her name recommendation of Viktor, which stuck.  Now when you see an industrial chic steel restaurant chair, you’ll just smile and think to yourself, “that’s Viktor!”

Are you interested in our other sources of inspiration? From following popular trends to creating original designs, East Coast Chair & Barstool continues to grow its own restaurant furniture lines. Let us know what you’re interested in learning about next!


See how the Viktor can be the center of your restaurant’s design!